December 6, 2000

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Dec. 6, 2000-The California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) for the third straight day has called upon Southern California Edison and other investor-owned utilities to begin voluntary "load" curtailment programs for certain customers in their service areas.

With power reserves below 5%, Cal-ISO and SCE continue to urge all customers to reduce their electricity consumption as the state copes with a Stage 2 Emergency.

Cal-ISO, the nonprofit agency that manages 75% of California's transmission power grid and secures power supplies for most of the state's consumers, said the Stage 2 Emergency would be in effect until 10 p.m.  The agency directed SCE to reduce its electrical load by more than 1,500 megawatts-enough power to serve approximately 1.4 million homes.

Businesses and consumers should reduce office lighting and use of nonessential equipment and appliances (e.g., clothes washers/dryers, and dishwashers).  Officials are asking customers to delay turning on their holiday lights until after 8 p.m.  Energy usage typically peaks between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. during winter months.

Cal-ISO attributed the energy shortfall to several power plants unavailable due to maintenance and a lack of power generation imports from the Northwest.

To achieve this load reduction during Stage 2, SCE is required to activate its voluntary load curtailment program, under which large industrial, commercial, and agricultural customers have agreed to temporarily reduce their power consumption during electrical emergencies in exchange for reduced rates.

Should the situation worsen for any reason, and power reserves drop below 1.5%, Cal-ISO would declare a Stage 3 Emergency, which has never occurred statewide in California.  During this stage, Cal-ISO could direct utilities to "drop load," necessitating involuntary rotating outages for blocks of customers across their service areas until sufficient reserve levels are achieved.

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An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 11 million via 4.3 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.